Become an Architectural Draftsman: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become an architectural draftsman. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in the field of architectural drafting.

Should I Become an Architectural Draftsman?

Architectural draftsmen (drafters) create technical drawings and plans by using computer software to convert the designs originally created by architects. These plans are then used in the construction of various types of buildings. Drafters might specialize in providing services in the residential or commercial sectors. These professionals tend to work with architects in office environments, though they might be required to visit construction sites from time to time, and most drafters are typically employed for full-time work.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Field Drafting, drafting technology or architectural drafting
Certification Optional certification is provided by the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA)
Key Skills Technical skills, mathematics, deductive reasoning, critical thinking, ability to understand complex industry software; knowledge of computer-aided design and drafting (CADD)
Salary (2014) $49,970 annually (median salary for all architectural and civil drafters)

Sources: O*NET Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, CareerOneStop

Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree

Many employers prefer their workers to have at least an associate's degree in drafting. Technical institutes offer training in the field, which may include an emphasis on AutoCAD (computer-aided drafting). Drafting education is also offered at some community colleges as an associate's degree in drafting or engineering graphics. Coursework typically covers drafting fundamentals, residential architectural drawing and CADD.

Success Tip:

  • Apply for an internship. Participating in an internship while in college provides students with the opportunity to gain additional knowledge and experience. Internship programs also offer students the chance to acquire skills while under the guidance of seasoned professionals and to network with potential employers.

Step 2: Find Employment

Many architectural drafters enter the field performing routine work under the supervision of experienced peers. They are hired to complete structural blueprints for residential and commercial structures. Depending on their level of expertise, architectural drafters may be consulted on building materials.

Success Tip:

  • Go to job fairs. Not all architectural drafting jobs are advertised in a newspaper or online. Attending job fairs provides additional opportunities for candidates to meet with employers that are hiring for open positions.

Step 3: Gain Certification

Professional certification for drafters is available through the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). Although employers do not usually require certification, it provides proof of professionally recognized excellence in the drafting field. Certification through the ADDA requires passing a 90-minute exam that covers a wide variety of drafting knowledge. Certified drafters must submit for recertification every five years.

Step 4: Consider Career Advancement

Drafters may choose to advance their career perspectives by pursuing further education in architecture. To become an architect, drafters must complete a professional bachelor's degree program and gain licensure in their field. Students having an associate's degree may be able to apply earned credits toward a 4-year program, depending on the school.

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